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Keeper League Rebuid: The Minor League Draft

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Ray details his picks in his 12 team, NL - only keeper league minor league draft.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the offseason, I wrote a few pieces about my decision to begin a rebuild in my 12 team, NL-only keeper league. You can find them in the links below, but in these links I detail the trades I made this offseason, and today, I detail who I picked in the minor league draft.

Keeper league dilemma: The rebuild decision

Keeper league trades: The rebuild continues

After all of these trades, I was left with eight picks in our two round minor league draft, five in the first round and three in the second round. I had traded for the following picks: #3, #4, #6, #8, #9, #19, #20, and #22. With so many picks to make, I conducted a lot of research this offseason, using the Fake Teams's prospect team's Top 10 prospects for each team, their Top 100 fantasy prospects for 2016 rankings, and their top prospects at each position rankings. I read all of the other usual prospect sources as well, John Sickels at Minor League Ball, ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America and others. I created my own rankings of the top 24 prospects available in our draft, and finalized who I would target at each slot.

Going into the draft, I knew the owner with the #1 pick was taking Rockies shortstop Brandon Rodgers, and the owner with the #2 pick was taking Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. That information was very helpful leading up to the draft knowing they would be off the board. I tried to trade for both picks during the offseason, but both owners were dead set on keeping the picks, and for good reason.

Without further ado, here are all of my picks, following by all 24 picks:

Pick #3: Nick Williams, OF, Phillies

Pick #4: Brett Phillips, OF, Brewers

Pick #6: Ozhaino Albies, SS, Braves

Pick #8: Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

Pick #9: Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers

Pick #19: Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies

Pick #20: Isan Diaz, SS, Brewers

Pick #22: Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies

UBA Two Round Minor League Draft Results

1. Scorpions - Brendan Rodgers 
2. Barons - Dansby Swanson 
3. Rays - Nick Williams 
4. Rays - Brett Phillips 
5. Badgers - Manuel Margot
6. Rays - Ozhaino Albies 
7. Donkeys - Willson Contreras
8. Rays - Victor Robles 
9. Rays - Cody Bellinger 
10. Boys -Trent Clark 
11. Badgers - Gleyber Torres
12. Cruz - Ian Happ 
13. Mutts - Kevin Newman 
14. Boys - Christian Arroyo
15. Badgers - Javier Guerra
16. Tongues - Jose De Leon
17. TRIP - Jacob Nottingham 
18. Badgers - Chris Shaw 
19. Rays - Jorge Alfaro 
20. Rays - Isan Diaz 
21. Donkeys - Gavin Cecchini
22. Rays - Rhys Hoskins 
23. Donkeys - Eddy Julio Martinez
24. Cruz - Cody Reed

Heading into the draft, I had the following five prospects to protect:

Lucas Giolito, SP, Nationals

J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies

David Dah, OF, Rockies

Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies

Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers

My strategy leading into the minor league draft was to draft prospects that are close to the majors and to focus on hitting prospects. I took Williams and Phillips with my first two picks as they are both projected to be major league ready in 2017, if not sooner, and both are on teams in the middle of a rebuild. Williams has the potential to put up seasons where he hits .280 with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases and will hit in a hitter friendly ball park in Philadelphia. I chose Phillips over Margot due to his ability to get on base more, his laugh, and he also will play in Miller Park, another hitter friendly park.

I didn't decide to pick Albies at #6 until the week before the draft, and after his terrific performance in spring training. I also heard an interview with someone in the Braves front office on MLB Network Radio, and the front office member, I think it was John Hart, indicated that they were very high on Albies and that he could get a call up as early as 2016. Albies began the season in Double A, so he has a good chance to be the Braves starting shortstop/second baseman out of spring training in 2017. In the big leagues, I think he could be what Dee Gordon is right now, a top of the order hitter, who hits for a high average with 30-40 stolen bases.

With the eighth pick, I couldn't pass on Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, and admit I was surprised he was still there. Most of the owners in this league also focus on players closer to the big leagues, so when Cubs catching prospect Willson Contreras was selected at #7, my decision was pretty easy. Robles may not be major league ready for another three years, but he could be a valuable trade chip next offseason or during the 2017 season as I continue to build a contender.

With the ninth pick, I couldn't pass on Dodgers first base prospect Cody Bellinger. Berlinger is coming off a breakout 2015 campaign where he hit 30 home runs and drove in over 100 runs as a 19 year old in High A. I get that those home runs were hit in the hitter friendly California League, but he was one of the youngest players in the league as well. Like Albies, Bellinger had a very good spring training, and was one of the last roster cuts, so it is obvious the Dodgers like him quite a bit. The other thing Bellinger has going for him is that he is athletic enough to play center field, which he played a number of times last season. He is currently blocked at first base by Adrian Gonzalez, so his first opportunity in the big leagues could come in the outfield. He put on 30 pounds this offseason, so my thought is that the team wants him to focus on hitting for power in Double A this season.

My last three picks were Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, Brewers infield prospect Isan Diaz and Phillies first base prospect Rhys Hoskins. Both Alfaro and Hoskins could be ready for the big leagues to start the 2017 season, as neither are blocked at the big league level. Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is in the last year of his contract, so first base will be an open competition in spring training in Phillies camp. Hoskins has hit at every level of the minors, though he has been old at each level. Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp aren't going to block Alfaro if Alfaro can show he can handle catching on an every day basis. Right field is also a possibility for him if his bat is ready before his glove.

I was very happy to grab Diaz so late, as he is already tearing up Low A pitching at the moment, and a promotion to High A could be in the cards by midseason.

The league rules state that you can only keep five prospects on your farm before each draft, so I am counting on the following to be called up this season or be big league ready in 2017: Giolito, Crawford, Williams, Phillips, Albies, Dahl, and one of both of Alfaro and Hoskins. That said, I can't go into the 2017 major league auction draft with too many unproven prospects on my roster if I expect to compete. Then again, I could make this a two year rebuild and just focus on competing in 2018, but I doubt it.

I am currently contemplating dealing my $38 Matt Carpenter for Willson Contreras in this league, so I could have a cheap catcher heading into my 2017 drafts as well.

Note: each prospect is assigned a $5 salary for the first year, and that goes to $10 in years two and three.

So how did I do?